New York

Rita Ackermann

Andrea Rosen Gallery

Long before slackers and Gen X-ers embraced the emblems of kitsch and abjection, they were wielded by artists as proof of rebellion against the constraints of art-historical tradition. Think of Francis Picabia’s reveling in the déclassé charm of tourist art and girlie magazines; or Sigmar Polke’s channeling, in the ’60s, of “higher beings” who produced canvases that combined mindless doodling with greeting-card art; or, more recently, Mike Kelley’s and Paul McCarthy’s immersion in the scatological.

It’s such a familiar story that it’s hard to believe many still fall for the gag, taking this kind of work as an authentic symptom of the decline of Western Civilization. Equally mystifying is the impulse that guides just as many others to slap the label “institutional critique” on the myriad forms of faux-adolescent latter-day Conceptualism. But there are any number of ways to explain the “

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 1996 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.